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How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Missouri

There are many reasons to look into a career in dental hygiene. It’s a good paying job with a relatively small amount of education required. The national mean salary for dental hygienists is about $70,000 a year, but in order to apply for certification, one only needs a two year associate degree from a technical college, which is less expensive then four year universities. Also, the job can provide flexible hours, with many dental hygienists working part-time just three or four days a week. Finally, it’s a career with a lot of employment security. With demand for preventive oral care on the rise, the need for dental assistants and hygienists is expected to grow by 30% over the next several years. If you’re interesting in a career in dental hygiene, then continue reading.

What do dental hygienists do?
Dental hygienists work along side dentists in their day to day practice. They assist with equipment operation, communicate with patients, take molds or x-rays of teeth, clean teeth, and sometimes take care of administrative work such as updating dental charts and recording patient history. It is helpful for one to develop interpersonal skills, because dental hygienist must interact with patients regularly.

What are the requirements to become a dental hygienist?
In order to become a dental hygienist, one must earn at least an associate degree. There are bachelor and masters programs available too. These higher level degrees may be required in order to teach, conduct research, or for clinical practice in school health programs. After obtaining a degree, one must pass both federal and state dental hygiene examinations, and then apply for certification.

How can a dental hygienist become certified?
In order to apply for certification in Missouri, one must submit their college transcripts, the results from the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and the results from a state exam. Here is a link to the Missouri application. A $155 fee is required.

In order to renew a license in the state of Missouri, one must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years, 25 hours of which must be devoted to maintaining and updating knowledge and skills related to patient care, and one must have up to date CPR certification.

How much do dental hygienists earn?
Salary can vary widely due to several factors including level of education, years of experience, and how much responsibility the dentist gives to the hygienist. Some dental hygienists get paid salary and some hourly. Missouri’s mean yearly salary for dental hygienists is $63,980, which is less the national mean of $70,210.

What tasks are a dental hygienist legally allowed to perform?
In Missouri, dental hygienists are allowed to perform the following with only general supervision required, which means that the dentist must authorize the services but does not need to be present as they are performed:

 

  • prophylaxis;
  • soft tissue curettage;
  • topical anesthesia;
  • place periodontal dressings;
  • pit/ fissure sealants;
  • study cast impressions;
  • x‐rays;
  • fluoride;
  • and remove sutures.

 

The following services may only be performed with direct supervision from a dentist:

 

  • treatment planning;
  • DH diagnosis/assessment;
  • place sutures.

 

Dental Hygienist are not allowed to perform the following:

 

  • administer nitrous oxide;
  • local anesthesia;
  • removing periodontal dressings.

 

If you are looking for a career with relatively low education investment, good earning potential, and plenty of room for advancement through furthering education, then dental hygiene may be a viable career option for you.